My heart is grieving.
I’ve received several Facebook messages from women who asked my advice about a dysfunctional dating relationship when The Sacred Search first came out several years ago. Each one noticed several “red flags” in their dating relationship and asked me if I thought they should be concerned.
In every case, the answer was a clear “YES!”
“Thank you so much,” was the typical reply, and then they went silent.
Now I’m getting a second round of Facebook messages, and since Facebook brings up the previous correspondence, I’m reminded of prior conversations.
It breaks my heart. Let me paraphrase a few:
“He said he was sorry, we ended up getting married, and now I’m the only one who seems to care about our relationship.”
“I’m doing everything I can to save my marriage but he refuses to see a counselor.”
“You were right. He’s a sex addict.”
“I guess now I should have listened. Turns out he’s gay.”
Let me state this as clearly and as forcefully as I can:
A dysfunctional dating relationship sealed by marriage doesn’t make any problems go away; it simply cements you in a dysfunctional marriage.
Marriage won’t improve your man. Marriage won’t change your man. (The same is true of a woman, of course.) Marriage simply weds you to your partner’s problems.
When you raise a significant issue in dating and the man or woman responds by crying and saying they’re sorry, nothing has changed. They’ve been caught, they don’t want to lose you, but it doesn’t mean they will repent. It doesn’t mean their character will improve. It just means they cried.
Give them a Kleenex, but don’t give them a ring—at least not until you see substantive, long-term change.
If you don’t witness character transformation before marriage, you’re foolish to expect it after marriage. A mature person—the kind you want to marry—is always growing and always open to biblically based conviction. He or she walks in grace, so they humbly realize they’re not perfect and will not be overly defensive when a loved one points something out with gentleness and understanding.
If this dynamic isn’t true in dating, it won’t be true in marriage.